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Dubai-based Emirates airline will operate special repatriation flights to five Indian cities between July 12 and 26 to assist stranded Indians get home and for residents of the UAE currently in India to return to the Gulf country. The flights will be operated to Bengaluru, Delhi, Kochi, Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram, the airline said in a statement on Saturday.

Only Indian citizens stranded in the UAE will be allowed to fly from Dubai to the five Indian destinations, it clarified.
“These flights will be available for UAE nationals and residents with prior entry approval from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDFRA) for residents of Dubai and ICA approval for residents of other emirates of the UAE,” the airline said. The ICA stands for the UAE’s Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship.

India had suspended all scheduled international passenger flights on March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many Indian nationals who have valid residence permits of the UAE and are currently in India have been complaining on social media for the last few weeks about the lack of flights between the two countries. Emirates said all passengers travelling from India to Dubai are also required to carry a negative Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) certificate issued by a laboratory authorised by the Indian government. “Certificates must be issued no more than 96 hours before departure,” the airline noted.

The Civil Aviation Ministry had announced on Twitter on July 9, “As part of the close strategic partnership between the governments of India and the UAE, and with a view to assisting UAE resident nationals who are at present in India to return to the UAE, the civil aviation authorities of both countries have agreed to operationalise the following arrangement from 12 July 2020.”

Charter flights operated by UAE carriers would now be permitted to bring Indian citizens from the UAE to India and carry “ICA-approved UAE residents” on their return leg, the ministry had said. On India to UAE journeys, all these flights will carry only those passengers who are destined for the Gulf country, it noted.

The ministry also said, “Indian carriers operating repatriation flights to bring Indian citizens from the UAE to India will be allowed to carry the ICA-approved UAE residents (returning to the UAE from India) on the outward journey from India to the UAE.”

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